I recently mentioned in the post My Daughter…Again that we were planning to do a half marathon together in March. A half is not something that most people can do without preparation, and certainly not at my age (73 on race day). By now, I know what has to be done—I’ve been doing this for many years. But, somehow, more important things always seem to get in the way of the training dates I pick out, and I get to the race under-prepared. So, this time I decided to try something different. I put all the training distances on my calendar, just like any other appointment. It’s pretty daunting when you see it all written down.
I’m pretty slow these days. Six years ago, before abdominal surgery, I was running 2:10 for a half (yes, I know how slow that is) and looking for ways to get under 2 hours. I don’t think my running ever really recovered after the surgery, and lately I’ve been looking for ways to get under 2:40. That is made more difficult by me being more ornery than I was before, and unwilling to do some of the things I know would improve my speed. For example, I never did like interval training—a proven way to get faster. So, I’ve retired from that: I won’t do it any more. I’ll still do pace runs, but in truth, I run pretty much at the pace I’m going to run (in the race) all of the time—unless, of course, I slow down. I can feel serious runners cringing at this attitude, but that’s the way it is.
When I was around 40, and a relative neophyte at running (25 or so years experience), I realized that longevity was more valuable to me than winning races. I decided that I wanted to still be running when I was 80, and if that was going to happen I had to have a different attitude toward injury prevention. My style changed. I stopped doing other activities where injury would prevent running and poured my athletic energy into the pleasures of the road. So far it has worked. When I’m 80, I’ll have 65 years experience running and I’ll have covered 75 or 80,000 miles. No regrets about the decision, and I’m proud of how much I’ve run even if I’m very slow. The good side of getting older is that a lot of the wimps have dropped out, and I now often win my age group.
So far I’ve held to my training schedule, except for a change I had to make this morning because of too much snow where I planned to go, and I don’t have any trips planned before the race, so I should get there ready to go. My daughter and I ran together just after Christmas, and her grace and beautiful style were an inspiration. Even after being sick for a year, she’s still a lot faster than I am, so I hope to see her long enough in the race to be inspired again. In any case, her older sister is going with us also to do the race. Her brother lives in DC, and a step-brother from New Jersey may join us, so we will have a grand family weekend.